Parking Meter: Mayor says in “no rush” to reintroduce project

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…vows to renegotiate deal

It has been more than a year since the former City Council approved amendments to the controversial parking meter project, which was massively rejected by citizens of Georgetown.

However, newly-elected Mayor Ubraj Narine said he is in no rush to reintroduce the initiative.

“I would not move in that rush to introduce parking meter unless the PSC (Private Sector Commission) and GCCI (Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry) can come to a decision,” Mayor Narine told INews during an exclusive interview.

The Mayor is expected to meet with the two Private Sector bodies soon to discuss, among other things, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which will pave the way for greater partnership and collaboration between the Mayor and City Council and the business community.

While he did not divulge much details, the young Mayor explained that parking meters are a good initiative for the city, “but it’s the way you introduce [it]”.

The City Council had entered into a contract with Smart City Solutions (SCS) on May 13, 2016, for the paid parking system to be rolled out in Georgetown. On January 23, 2017, the meters were active.

However, this was met with strong resistance from the Opposition, Private Sector umbrella bodies and ordinary citizens, who formed themselves into an organisation called Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) – which successfully held some of the largest non-political protests ever seen in the city.

Mayor Ubraj Narine

Amid public pressure, the Guyana Government finally intervened and suspended the bylaws, effectively halting the parking meter project. It has since remained stalled.

In January 2018, a “Parking Meter Renegotiation Committee” Chaired by Councillor Akeem Peter, proposed a reduction in the parking fee from $500 per hour to $150 per hour. The Committee comprised several Councillors as well as representatives of the concessionaire, SCS, who were tasked with renegotiating the contract.

In April 2018, the then City Council approved amendments to the bylaws – which are still with Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, who has to give approval in order for the project to restart.

In June 2018, the Council appeared before Cabinet to discuss the changes of the contract but to date, no decision has been announced.

At the time, the then Town Clerk Royston King said SCS has been cooperating with the City Council as it awaits the determination on the project. With a new Council elected in November 2018, there is still no word on how City Hall will proceed with the contentious initiative.

GCCI is on record rejecting the return of the metered parking system on the grounds that there needs to be a proper feasibility study to determine costs, social impact, and other factors.

Even though the contract has already been renegotiated, Mayor Narine told this publication that before he moves to reintroduce the project, he wants to talk certain things over with SCS.

“…as Mayor standing right now, I would need to renegotiate with the investors in parking meter. I will not go and introduce parking meters without renegotiation with the investors,” he said.

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